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Decision Disagreement Framework (matterapp.com)
101 points by yarapavan 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

I honestly can't figure out how to apply this to the real-life disagreement I had today.

> Will the decision slow down, harm, or break the business?

That depends on who's view you go with? In my opinion, my choice will not "slow down, hard, or break the business". But the person I was arguing with felt that my choice did, and had an alternative choice he wanted to make. And of course, he felt that his choice did not "slow down, hard, or break the business" and that mine did. We can't even agree on whether to use the framework!

Perhaps one defaults to "just do it". Further, what do you do when you coworker refuses to put forward a rationale for their choice? In my example from today, he had an opinion/action he wanted us as a company to take, but could not provide a decent rationale to it. To paraphrase, it was "we should change X to better support my workflow"; my counter argument was that changing X was counterproductive to and basically eliminated goal Y, which we had just received a (reasonable) mandate from on high to accomplish. Further, his own workflow would be hampered by X, and a simple change to his own workflow would better accomplish his own goals while allowing us to maintain goal Y. He literally refused to respond to that position, but still wants us to do X.

Assuming your coworkers are rational is a terrible idea in my experience. Unfortunately, IDK what else one can do, and IME rational arguments are ignored and bad decisions are made and people start looking for escape hatches.

Perhaps we have bigger problems.

The website for Matter suggests they are a team of 4. If you're that small and have a set of problems that require this solution, that's a red flag. But more to the point, IMO you don't have the really hard forms of decision disagreement that are found in larger organizations where people are inevitably removed from decisions that substantially affect them.

Unless you're talking from that perspective... idk, it doesn't seem that interesting

I respectfully disagree. Steve Jobs used to talk about how a great team is like the Beatles. They were four really talented people that balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. It's hard to imagine the Beatles didn't disagree with one another and I would bet they eventually learned how to have productive disagreements. This is our attempt to define that best practice and help new hires be successful as we grow the team.

The sooner a company establishes how to have productive conversations and unlock everyone's potential the better.


You didn't really address the GP's point however. How does this process apply to larger organizations? How can it apply across layers of a hierarchy? I don't see how bringing Jobs up helps explain it, he was certainly not the type of business leader known for his equitable disagreement process.

Don't get me wrong, I'm intrigued by the concept of formally surfacing disagreement. But the example in the blog post is trivially contrived. What happens when the disagreement is between two different but balanced work paths each with high risk and more unknowns than knowns? How does this disagreement process jive with the scientific process, where competing hypotheses are explored by experiment?

You're asking for a grand unified theory of solving problems across domains and multi-organizational structures. That was not what is being presented.

“First, acknowledge the disagreement and paraphrase the opinion of the person disagreeing to make sure ...”

YOU understand their position.

This is a fundamental mistake in this process that happens at the beginning and everything that follows is made worse because of it.

You don’t rephrase a person’s position to make them “feel heard.” What’s important is to get to the meat of why they hold that position, in case you are disagreeing with a misapprehension of their position, or you are disagreeing with a solution because you didn’t really understand the underlying problem a person is trying to address.

Often the real disagreement is a layer or more below the area where conflict is manifesting. It more often is a result of information asymmetry or a difference in priorities or perception of reality by the stakeholders.

This is the single most important part of engaging in productive disagreement, and without it much time is wasted, resentments are formed, non optimal solutions are generated, and disagreements resurface repeatedly but transformed such that they appear as new disagreements.

“First, acknowledge the disagreement and paraphrase the opinion of the person disagreeing to make sure ...”

To expand on your point, I was taught that a person is just being ignorant if you cannot argue your "opponent's" position to their satisfaction. You really don't have to believe one word of it but understanding where their reasoning has taken them is vital to understanding your own position. It will help you decide that what you believe is reasonable and has been properly tested.

It will also have the value of telling you if there is a real disagreement or the fog of one human trying to talk to another is obscuring what should be an agreement. Nothing is as stupid and painful as two people arguing past each other.

While there can be misunderstandings on your side, or deeper issues at play, if you don't acknowledge the other side's arguments then they'll assume you didn't understand them (they will think they have really compelling arguments) or that they didn't make them clearly or forcefully enough.

I think the above poster's point is less about dealing with that misunderstanding and more against emptily restating the oppositions argument with the purpose of making them feel heard, WITHOUT expending any effort to actually understand their arguments.

Your point that people will restate their position if they don't feel like it's understood is valid. That doesn't remove the annoyance when someone SAYS the understand the point but clearly demonstrates that they don't.

Obviously both parts are very helpful: You should actually listen and consider the points being made to you, AND they should be shown that you have done this. Skipping either side is bad, but a lot of advice tells you to focus on the second, and not nearly enough tells you to do the first.

Yes, thanks for clarifying my comment for me.

I mean, if we go all the way with this, I would say many times the person expressing an opinion may not actually realize (or be able to express) all the factors going in to their position.

If you seek to deeply understand their stance, they often start to understand it with more clarity as well, and sometimes you can then engage at the inflection point level and create a win-win.

”After the decision has been stated, the decision maker requests that each team member commit support to the decision aloud.“

This seems infantilizing and cult like.

Forced speech in general is a red flag in a company culture or a relationship.

If people don’t respect that a decision has been made, that is a problem, but this ritual is not going to solve that.

While researching, I found this inspiring post by Gokul Rajaram who is someone I respect tremendously. If you haven't heard of Gokul, he's considered the Godfather of Google AdSense, creator of FB's ad platform and now a leader at Square. It's worth at least considering his advice :-)

Here's the article where Gokul recommends this approach: https://firstround.com/review/square-defangs-difficult-decis...

"After a decision is made, each participant must commit support out loud. Pledging support aloud binds you to the greater good."

To my surprise, this technique is highly effective. Might be worth giving it a try?

I'll second the claim that this feels cult like. I'll even cede it is probably effective. Still feels cult like.

Saying this comes from the same kind as AdSense and Facebook ads actually makes it feel worse. :(

After a decision is made, each participant must commit support out loud. Pledging support aloud binds you to the greater good.

So, you want me to count coup in front of the defeated and make them state their surrender for all to hear? I would rather just move on to implementing the decision and rely on their professionalism to not break anything. Their are some folks in the US that do not react well to such public displays of acquiesce.

I agree with the others, it still sounds like a cult because you're forcing agreement. You're creating a false consensus by removing the right to respectfully disagree and taken away the "I told you so" satisfaction and the ability to build reputation from such things. It creates a culture where no one bothers to disagree, it's too much work for no reward.

Search for "Dave Mitchell soapbox consensus" for a much funnier and well thought out look at it.

Weird appeal to authority in referencing Gokul.

The whole point of cult-like behaviors is that they are effective tools of manipulation.

The downside is that they undermine the individual’s psyche.

Have fun playing with this stuff!

I apologise for this being completely off topic. I just wanted to suggest that you don't use Google's smart lock on your welcome / splash screen. For me, seeing all my Google accounts listed on some random website is extremely off-putting.

Implementing, and practicing, a framework like this is an incredible way to build a culture that makes every person feel like his/her opinion can count and will be listened to.

Author of the post here! Just wanted to say I really appreciate this comment. Why would anyone hire someone and not listen to them?

why would a specialist care to bike-shed with generalists if no-one else in the firm understands their domain.. which is what they were hired for and want to do?

its not the disagreements you know you have - leadership takes care of those - its the one's people won't acknowledge that take you down .. and to spot those, you need to be quite a selective listener, no?

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